Friday, December 3, 2010


By now, most of you will have seen the new 28mm 1812 figures I am producing. The War of 1812 was a sideshow in the great Napoleonic Wars, but an important one for Americans and Canadians, the latter taking great pride in the defense of their border, and the former who wreaked just enough havoc to declare victory and go home to try their luck thirty years later against Mexico, an adversary with much better weather.

These figures are Lower Canada Milita in round hats from the new Knuckleduster collection (I am ever-so-slowly painting samples to photograph; sculpting always takes priority). These troops were drafted by the Lower Canada  Assembly who entitled them The Lower Canada Select Embodied Militia, which is certainly catchy, but difficult to fit on product label.  They took part in a number of battles, including Plattsburgh and Chateauguay. Like most Canadian militia, they were ordered to wear red coats and dark blue-grey trousers (not the grey trousers worn by regulars in the Peninsular and Waterloo campaigns), and like most militia units of any nationality, they were chronically short of supply, especially early in the war. They often had to resort to expedient uniform modifications, such as the use of "round hats" (top hats) instead of shakos and olive green coats (see figures on the left) instead of red.

Here are their officers:

In truth, by late 1813, most militia would have received proper uniforms with shakos, but I've always been of the opinion that exotic uniforms are much more fun to push around on the wargame table, and as long as there is the merest historical excuse for using them, I will choose dashing round hats over mundane shakos any day.

In a pinch, these figures will also do for Royal Marines, although to be technically correct, you may want to add the strap that reaches from the brim to the crown on each side (this would be a delicate operation, to be sure, and I'm not sure what material you would use).

The Lower Canada Militia should not be confused with the Upper Canada "Incorporated" Militia that took part in the Niagara campaign. Officially titled the Volunteer Battalion of Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada, they were made up of volunteers from the Upper Canada Militia who served for a longer period of time than the Sedentary Militia. By the time of Lundy's Lane they marched in full British gear, including Belgic shakos, red coats, and blue facings.

[Editor's Postscript:  There are perfectly respectable researchers who portray the Incorporated Militia in Stovepipe shakos with green-faced red coats, issued in 1813. The issue of the shako is unclear at best (see my post on the subject) and the cloth for the blue facings was not sent until just prior to the Niagara campaign with instructions for regimental tailors to make the necessary alterations.]


Stuart Asquith, The War of 1812, A Campaign Guide to the War with America, 1812-1815, Partizan Press, 2008.

Philip Katcher, The American War, 1812-1814, Osprey Publishing 1990

And that august repository of all useful knowledge, Wikipedia: